About Us






Chalalan EcoLodge
Madidi National Park

Photos | 6 Day Chalalan Itinerary | Chalalan EcoLodge | San Jose de Uchupiamonas | History of San Jose | Facilities | Activities | Chalalan Project | Letter by the Villagers


Chalalan EcoLodge; Rio Tuichi; Madidi National Park (

View All MADIDI.COM Photos

6 Day Chalalan Itinerary

DAY 1 Transfer from hotel in La Paz to TAM airport and flight from La Paz to Rurrenebaque. Transfer to hotel in Rurrenebaque. Afternoon free to explore to town and get prepared for your journey. Lunch and dinner on your own.

DAY 2 Leaving early in the morning, we travel early five hours (total) from Rurrenebaque to Chalalan EcoLodge by motorized dugout up the Beni River - first through the Bala Canyon and then up the rio Tuichi into Parque Nacional Madidi (Madidi National Park). Lunch and time for rest. In the afternoon, a presentation of the project and a trek on the Chichilo and Mirador trails. Dinner and trek to see the night wildlife.

DAY 3 After birdwatching and breakfast, we trek the Silbador, Mutun and Anta trails to learn about fruit, medicinal and exotic plants. Lunch and time to swim in the lagoon. In the afternoon trek the Wichi and Jaguar trails to learn about plants and watch birds. After dinner, music, traditional histories and legends of the area.

DAY 4 Full-day Excursion: In the morning, trek the Wabucuru and Marimono trails to learn about ecological processes and observe wildlife. Passing the Arroyo Raya Mayo, we reach the rio Eslabon and search a pristine area of hills for spider monkeys and other wildlife. We eat lunch in the area and return to Chalalan for dinner and biodiversity games.

Day 5 Free day for special interests. Guides and boats available. You can work out a plan with your guides.

DAY 6 After an early breakfast, hike to the rio Tuichi and travel by boat downstream to Rurrenabaque (3 hours). Transfer to airport, flight Rurrenebaque (10:30) to La Paz (11:30). Transfer (included) from La Paz airport to hotel (not included).

top of page

Chalalan EcoLodge

Chalalan EcoLodge, nestled in Madidi National Park, was crafted with the ecotourist in mind, offering comfortable accommodations in pristine tropical rainforest. The EcoLodge sits on the edge of Chalalan Lake deep in Madidi’s wilderness. Chalalan is accessed by dugout canoe up the spectacular Beni and Tuichi Rivers, 5 hours from the gateway community of Rurrenabaque.

Chalalan has been constructed with respect for the natural surroundings, using forest materials, solar energy, and intensive protection of the lake. The cabins are surrounded by primary forest inhabited by an astonishing variety of birds and mammals. The lake is an ideal habitat for monkeys, caiman, turtles, hoatzin and macaws that reverberates under a constant symphony or birdsong, shouts off howler monkeys, and barking toucans, particularly at dawn and dusk. We invite you to experience Chalalan.

top of page

San José de Uchupiamonas

Development with cultural identity
- 300 years living in tropical rainforest
- Quechua-Tacana culture
- Visionaries and owners of Chalalan
- Sustainable development of their community
- Conservation of their forest
- Chalalan is the property of community shareholders and 100% of the benefits go to the community of San José de - Uchupiamonas

“We live in the rainforest, we eat, we cure ourselves, we dressed with what the rainforest gives us, we know that the trees, the plants, the animals are possessed by supernatural beings that can punish us and make people fall sick for reasons that only they know.” Fransisco Navi, shaman, San José de Uchupiamonas.

Unfortunately, things are changing and the young people are losing our customs and beliefs. For us, the old Tacana, the music and the dances have been and continue being the only and best way that we have to honor the gods and saints.” Fransisco Navi, shaman, San José de Uchupiamonas.

The History of San José

The original people of San Jose were part of the Uchupiamona ethnic group, a division of the Tacana national found in the Tuichi river area (yariyapu y Turiyapu). The Tacana people inhabited the area from the Andean foothills to the amazon forest. Their social organization was based on small, mobile villages, subsisting on hunting and yucca production.

In the period between 1470 to 1492, the first incursion of the Incas entered the Tacana territory, extending the Inca empire and introducing the quechua language.

The Spanish Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries entered the Apolo region around 1540. After creating religious missions in the populated areas they moved into the Tuichi river region. A Franciscan missionary founded Mision de Tumupasa (white stone in tacana) with Tacana groups of Sipiramonas and Uchupiamonas. Three years later, because of diseases passing amongst the tribes, the Uchupiamonas abandoned the mission and returned to their ancient terrirory on the Tuichi river. In 1716, Fray Domingo de Valdez followed them and founded the original San Jose de Uchupiamonas with 45 families. This site, called Tullullani, was abandoned almost immediately due to odd occurences though to be associated with the ancient cemetery. The village was moved to another area on the tuichi river called "Kuara" (mother in tacana), where the present village of San Jose is located.

Thirty to forty years later, a 40 year epidemic severely reduced the population to the point that the missionaries were forced to move the remaining families to Apolo. In this region quechua was the common language spoken and used by the missionaries to evangelize the area. When a group of the original inhabitants of San Jose returned they found only three families remaining of the original inhabitants. Consequently the majority of the people in San Jose now speak quechua with only a small number who can speak Tacana. Josesanos speak a quechua that is different in vocabulary and pronunciation than dialects used in other regions of Bolivia.


Traditional Amazon-style "cabañas" (cabins) made from rain forest materials harvested in a sustainable manner. Chalalán Ecolodge can accommodate 24 ecotourists in 3 stand-alone honeymoon cabanas with queen-size beds, private balconies and mosquito nets, as well as 3 bungalows each with 3 double rooms, 2 twin-size beds in each room and shared verandas.

The ecolodge has four bathrooms and four shower facilities. Running water is supplied by a solar-powered plumbing system. There is a dining room with capacity for 24 people and a library stocked with field guides and reference materials on biodiversity and its interpretation. The professional kitchen with a water-purification system is run by women from the community who cook traditional meals for visitors. A fully stocked bar is available for the tourists staying at Chalalán.

Twenty-five kilometers of trails within Madidi National Park traverse the different forest habitats that surround the ecolodge. Canoes are available for the guests, and two motorized boats with capacity for 12 passengers each are used for transportation from Rurrenabaque to the ecolodge. Handicraft items are sold by the local community members.

Activities / Actividades

Trail system. There are over 25 Km of trails to choose from including: The Chichilo with scenic overviews of the Madidi Park; The Silbador for its medicinal, fruit, and exotic plants; The Wichi and Jaguar are best for birdwatching; plants typically used for local handicrafts grow here; The Wabucuru and Marimono focus on Madidi’s wildlife and ecology and also visit a recently discovered archeological site. Enjoy the return via the Eslabon River. Sistema de Sendas. Las sendas temáticas con un recorrido total de 25 km. que comprende: Senda Chichilo y el mirador del Parque Nacional; Senda Silbador y sus plantas medicinales; Senda Wichi y Jaguar con sus plantas para artesanias; Sendas Wabucuru y Marimono con explicación de la ecología y la vida silvestre del Madidi, visitando un lugar arqueológico recientemente descubierto y disfrutando del recorrido del rio Eslabon.

Birdwatching. Over 340 bird species live in the vicinity of Chalalán including Macaws, Hoatzins, Toucans, Tanagers, and Hummingbirds. Observacion de Aves. Más de 340 especies de aves viven en las cercanias del lago Chalalán entre guacamayos (parabas), tucanes, hoatzins (sereres), tángaras, picaflores y otras.

Wildlife. Frequent sitings of spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, tapirs, alligators, wild pigs, and capybaras. Vida Silvestre. Avistamientos frecuentes de monos arana (marimonos), capuchinos (silbadores), monos aulladores (maneches), Chichilos, Tapires, Lagartos, Chanchos salvajes, Capibaras, Ranas y Mariposas.

Canoe trips. on Chalalán Lake at dusk when the birds and troops of monkeys are actively preparing for the night and when caimans are easily spotted. Paseos en canoas. Disfrute los paseos en canoa por el Lago Chalalan al atardecer cuando las aves y los monos están preparándose para la noche y los caimanes están fácilmente observados por el impresionante brillo de sus ojos.

Swimming and relaxing. After a day of hiking, a refreshing dip in the pristine Chalalán Lake is always welcomed, or simply relax in a hammock while listening to the symphony of the forest. Natación y relajamiento. Después de haber paseado por la selva durante el dia, un bano refrescante en el lago es lo major, o simplemente relajarse en la hamaca, escuchando la maravillosa sinfonía del bosque.

Folklore Tales and Cultural Interaction. The tales and legends from the community of San Jose de Uchupiamonas are prolific and intriguing. Learn the legends of the forest animals, of how they have evolved to their current state, and how they have figured in the daily life of the community. Also, together with your guide, experience a traditional Josesano evening. Folklore e interacción cultural. Los cuentos y leyendas de la comunidad de San Jose de Uchupiamonas son abundantes y enigmáticos. Aprenda las leyendas sobre los animales del bosque, de como se han adaptado a su estado actual, y de como estan insertos en la vida cotidiano de la comunidad. Junto con su guía experiment una noche tradicional de la comundad San Jose de Uchupiamonas.

Biodiversity Games. To reinforce learning we’ve designed several fun and interactive games which incorporate themes of Madidi’s biodiversity and that which surrounds Chalalan. Juegos de biodiversidad. Para reforzar el aprendizaje se han disenado interesantes juegos con temas de biodiversidad del Parque Nacional y el entorno del lago Chalalan.

top of page

The Chalalan Project

Chalalán Ecolodge is a joint ecotourism initiative of the rainforest community of San José de Uchupiamonas and Conservation International (CI) in Bolivia. Created in 1995 by a visionary group of San José villagers with a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank, the ecolodge provides employment opportunities through nature-based tourism, a much-needed economic alternative to logging.

CI's goal at the outset of the Chalalán project was to create a viable ecotourism lodge that was wholly owned and operated by local managers and staff. To accomplish this, CI trained villagers in a broad range of activities, including marketing and management, house keeping, food preparation and how to guide tours. In February 2001, the community received full ownership of the lodge from CI. Today, 74 families receive regular direct economic benefits from employment and management of the ecolodge. They also receive indirect benefits from the sale of crafts that are made in a sustainable matter.

Chalalán ecolodge allows villagers to benefit economically from living in harmony with the forest in many ways. In addition to lodge management, for instance, villagers work in sustainable agriculture, handicraft activities and sell non-timber forest products. During their visit to Chalalán Ecolodge, ecotourists will have the opportunity to discover Madidi National Park through the eyes of the San José de Uchupiamonas community. An experience worthwhile

top of page

Letter by the Villagers of San José de Uchupiamonas

This is the story of a dream come true. A dream that was born in the depths of the Bolivian Amazon in the village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas. We, the Josesanos, have lived surrounded by the jungle for the past 300 years. The jungle has sustained us, providing the necessary resources for survival. Our village is located 8 hours by river from the closest town. Our contact with population centers has been a permanent necessity; we have to travel there to sell our products: coffee, rice, peanuts and others.

The great distance to the closest market has made it increasingly difficult to sell our products the outside world. For this reason, we have looked for alternative economic options for our young people, to keep them from migrating to other locations. Additionally, we have seen that many economic alternatives put our forests in danger.

We want to conserve our forest for our children and our grand-children so that they too can coexist within the nature that surrounds us. Many years ago, tourists began to flow into the Tuichi River Valley. Many of them brought by the lure of adventure described in the book by Yossi Ginsberg, and Israeli tourist who was lost in the Amazon jungle and eventually rescued by local people. Because of this tourist flow, some of our community members began to work as guides for the groups that arrived at our doorstep. And this is the story of how a group of visionary community members in San Jose decided to build and "ecolodge".

Today, the long trail to construct our lodge had become a reality. The lodge is not just a source of jobs for the Josesanos, it also provides us a space to conserve. Thanks to the financing of the International Development Bank and the technical assistance of Conservation International, we are constructing the cabins along the Chalalan Lake, inside the integrated Management Area of Madidi National Park.

The lodge has been designed to respect the environment that surrounds it, utilizing native materials and local building techniques while simultaneously providing comfort to tourists. The lodge is surrounded by a labyrinth of trails that crisscross the forest, permitting observation of different ecosystems, each with its individual type of flora and fauna. We understand that tourists come to visit and enjoy our natural resources, to experience our culture, to learn about our ecosystems, to taste our traditional cooking and to rest in the heart of the Amazon forest.

Conservation International is training community members in San Jose that are interested in working at Chalalan. We would like to enrich our ancestral knowledge and provide administration of this ecotourism enterprise. Currently, we are putting our efforts in learning the skills necessary to manage Chalalan.

It is our intention that Chalalan becomes a unique spot in the Bolivian Amazon that will provide tourists with comfort, excellent cuisine, environmental education, activities in the rainforest; such as hikes, river cruises, wildlife observation, and cultural exchange, that will make Chalalan an unforgettable experience.

We believe that by taking care of our animals and forests for the enjoyment of tourists is a way of taking care of our own home.

We will be waiting for you to come visit us in Chalalan.

top of page

Home | Trips | EcoLodges | Reserves | Links | Wildlife |
About Us | Bookstore | Photos | Expanded Menu

Alan Perry | Daniel Manzaneda
(208) 866-9617 | |